Coronavirus: Portsmouth burglar who targeted Copnor Men's Shed not jailed 'due to Covid-19 pandemic'
A MAN who burgled a men’s shed community group has been handed a suspended jail sentence ‘due to Covid-19’.
Abdul Ali, 30, of no fixed address, admitted burgling the Copnor Men’s Shed, in Walsall Road, on March 31.
It comes after power tools – used by 23 members of the group – worth £760 were stolen overnight.
Ali was arrested near the site and charged. He appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates' Court on April 2.
District judge Gary Lucie imposed a 20-week jail term suspended for 12 months.
An exclusion order bans him from entering the Stacey Centre for a year.
Ali must pay a victim surcharge of £122.
The magistrates' courts records said: ‘Immediate custody not imposed due to Covid-19 pandemic.’
The shed group has 23 older members, including people severely disabled.
Members have been making mud kitchens for nurseries, bird boxes, a sensory garden, and are currently making two peacock houses and a dove roost for Victoria Park.
Richard Brown, secretary to the Copnor Men's Shed, told The News: ‘(Burglars) are the lowest of the low and need their hands cut off.
‘We have been broken into twice in two weeks – the first time on March 18 when they broke into the safe and stole £360, and again on March 31 when again they broke into the main building and the office.
‘This time they stole three Ryobi drills which will cost around £460 to replace and two tool boxes with various tools in them worth around £300.’
‘Some of the blame lays with the courts who do not punish law breakers.’
Defendants who have subsequently appeared at the same court before the same judge have been remanded and jailed.
A Hampshire police spokeswoman previously said: 'Our officers were called following the break-in Walsall Road, which happened just after 7pm.
'We deployed the area and began our investigations, where it was discovered that a quantity of power tools had been stolen from inside.'
Two men, 39 and 23, and both from Portsmouth, were arrested but then released. Ali was arrested overnight into April 1 and was charged.
Police added: ‘We know that this is a particularly concerning time for our local businesses but we hope this shows you that we are still fighting crime in the city and will take action to help keep our communities safer.
'We are out on patrol every day and will continue to be throughout this worrying time.'
Police previously said the burglary was at the Stacey Centre but Ali had actually targeted Copnor Mens Shed, which is on the same site.